Schibsted retains digital subscribers with automated onboarding

By Siri Holstad Johannessen and Tor Marius Espedal

Schibsted Norway

Oslo, Norway


Over the last few years, Schibsted’s digital subscription sales have increased extensively. With a great number of sales comes great responsibility, especially in the customer relationship management and customer experience departments.

For a long time, we used a standardised onboarding programme (basically a series of e-mails) for all new subscribers over a period of 30 days. The programme had little individual adaptation and gave the same messages to everyone. Throughout 2017 we placed a strong focus on implementing and loading data into our marketing automation system as well as developing possibilities for differentiating between channels in a customer journey.

A new onboarding strategy includes customisation of communication.
A new onboarding strategy includes customisation of communication.

Having behavioural data and predictive scores as segmentation possibilities has been a game changer in how we operate through our customer journeys so far, and we are still just starting to explore what we can implement.

Automated journeys based on customers’ individual behavior

To put your marketing automation tool to good use, you need to have good and reliant data available. When this is in place, you need to make sure you exploit the data in the right way. Your hypotheses do not always come true!

Testing and optimisation are critical. Making sure the journeys can co-exist with all the other communication you have is almost as important.

Our experience is that consumers are bombarded with marketing and informational messages from everywhere so we try not to communicate more than we have to. The risk of over-communicating is that our communication will no longer be perceived as relevant. Therefore, the hypothesis is that the use of data and the capability of analysing it will reduce the amount of information sent and that, in turn, will increase the relevancy for the recipient.

Onboarding you on what you don’t know

When we know our customers, and can make decisions based on their individual actions and behaviours, we can increase the rates of renewal and total revenue with some testing and optimisation.

We implemented a new onboarding process that takes into account what the subscribers have used within the product, and it relates the information of what is read. There is no need to explain or inform people about our app or the “My Page” feature if subscribers have already used them. And it really does work!

Our hypothesis was that relaying our communications to every subscriber individually would increase engagement, renewals, and, ultimately, revenue. After working with the automated, data-driven onboarding system for some months, we now see a clear improvement in unique open and click rates. We raised both of those parameters by several percentage points.

With the new process, open and click rates have improved.
With the new process, open and click rates have improved.

These actions increase our rates of first renewal by 3%, which has an enormous effect on revenue. They also increased total subscription revenue per year rates by about 4%.

In addition to this, we see a significant improvement in the number of subscribers who use all of our digital products included in their subscription package.

So where do we go from here?

One of the most exciting and uplifting thoughts about these results is the future potential. By optimising our customer journeys and triggering further communication, we will most likely have additional increases in renewals and subscription revenues.

There are several areas on which we want to continue focusing:

  1. Parts of our implemented customer journey need improvement and further development. This is an area on which we will always have a strong focus.
  2. There are still sources of data that we are not currently taking advantage of in our marketing automation tool, such as multiple prediction scores, that we need to test and implement in our customer journeys and trigger communication.
  3. Increasing the number of employees within the customer experience department. To get more power and punch in this field, we need more people.

We always want to go further and improve our work and results. Our mission is to create personalised, relevant, and engaging customer journeys, ultimately resulting in increased renewal rates. However, our main goal is to make sure we inspire our subscribers to engage with our high-quality journalism.

About Siri Holstad Johannessen and Tor Marius Espedal

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